Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865 - 1923)
Nationality: German, American
Contributions: Electrical Engineering:
- Hysteresis: Steinmetz researched energy loss of magnetic materials used in electrical and electromechanical machinery which led to his first notable achievement - the law of hysteresis. This law explains the power loss that takes place whenever electrical machinery works under a magnetic field which is converted also to heat loss. Before Steinmetz' discovery power losses due to magnetism in electrical motors, generators, transformers and other electrical devices could be known only after they were built. Steinmetz' hysteresis law changed this and enabled engineers to calculate and minimize power losses before starting the construction of electrical machines.
- Alternating current (AC) calculations: Steinmetz' second contribution was the establishment of the mathematic principles for the calculation of alternating-current (AC) circuits and by this he simplified the work and design of electrical engineers. This enabled the efficient design of electrical machinery and power lines, so that the performance of the electrical machinery could be predicted in advance without the need for an expensive process of constructing the apparatus or the system first and only then testing it for efficiency. This achievement contributed to the fast advancement of the commercial scale introduction of alternating-current apparatus and technology.
- Theory of electrical transients: Another accomplishment of Steinmetz was the theory of electrical transients - very short time changes in electrical circuits: voltage and current spikes. As a result, Steinmetz developed devices for the protection of high-power transmission lines from lightning bolts which are a good example of an electrical transient. In order to study the lightning phenomena he designed a generator that produced a discharge of 10,000 amperes and 120,000 volts.
Charles Proteus Steinmetz was a prolific inventor and held many patents. Only a few are listed below.
- US533,244 - Distribution of Alternating Current, 1895.
- US804,440 - Homopolar generator, 1905.
- US1,025,932 - Metal Halide Lamp, 1912.
- US1,042,986 - Induction furnace, 1912.